When you open your own pizza shop, you can put whatever you want on the walls. Take Alex Plattner. He loves Henri Matisse, so when you step into his small pizzeria in Hyde Park, you’re met with a wall coated in Matisse-inspired black cut-outs. It’s bold. It’s graphic. And it’s a whole lot of fun.
Plattner plans to open his pizzeria, Parlor Pizza Project, the second week of February, a timeline he calls “cautiously optimistic.”
“Everything has been good so far,” he says. “There are always little hiccups and things, [but] since I took over an existing restaurant space, I avoided a lot of the challenges of a full buildout and all that goes with that.”
If Parlor Pizza Project sounds a little familiar to you, it may be because you’ve perhaps had some of Plattner’s pies before at Oakley Wines, where he’s hosted the Parlor Pizza Project pop-up on Sundays since this summer. His last pop-up is planned for January 31.
In his own pizzeria, he will be able to offer a larger menu with more options. At Oakley Wines, customers could choose from two or three pies. In his restaurant, Plattner plans to stick with five or six signature options, plus a create-your-own pizza where customers can put together their favorite toppings, and all pies will be 16 inches.
While Plattner’s background is not in food—he came from the education field, where he was a teacher and administrator—he’s had a history of seeking out good pizza since childhood, he explains. He prefers pies with a little spice and simple toppings: a meat and a veggie. His go-to has Italian sausage and some of Parlor’s pickled peppers, plus a lot of fresh basil. “I like pizzas that feel fresh, not [like] somebody cracked open a can and put something boring on there,” he says.
Given Parlor Pizza Project’s space and set-up, opening during a pandemic didn’t add as much of a hurdle as might be expected. While customers will one day be able to stand up and eat at the tall tables at the windows, Parlor’s menu is to-go only right now. In fact, according to the Instagram announcement he made to his followers about the restaurant, the pandemic might have actually helped Platter open Parlor in its own space. He wrote, “The pandemic forced me to distill my many vague and ever-changing plans for the future, and most of all, convinced me that I’ve got to go for it. I love to make pizza and I can’t wait to get this thing going.”
“The restaurant is so small and limited with what I’m doing, and I’ve seen more and more restaurants being forced to scale down and focus on a couple things like carry out,” he says. “I never wanted to open big restaurant. This isn’t a crazy weird thing to do. People are always going to be drawn to pizza and carry out, even in a pandemic.”
Parlor’s location is in something of a special spot for Plattner; he grew up just down the street and a number of his family member still live nearby. “I really want to get to know the people in the neighborhood,” he says. “It’s why I like food in the first place—the relationships.”